Meridian, Miss. Serving Lauderdale, Newton, Neshoba and Kemper counties, officials with the Salvation Army office in Meridian say demand is up for Christmas assistance.
"What we're seeing is a lot of new families this year. About 40% of our family caseload is new," says Major Walter Strong.
The local Salvation Army has more than 500 families and 1,030 children on its list for Christmas assistance. The agency's goal is to provide food, clothing, and toys to those individuals.
Although the demand for assistance from it is up, Major Strong says this year donations are down to the agency's kettle campaign.
"Our goal is $115,000 which is the same as last year, but with Thanksgiving coming later, everything got moved back five days. So, we've got less days out on the kettles this year than we had last year," says Strong.
So far, the local Salvation Army's Kettle Campaign has raised just under $30,000. With five fewer days to get donations this year, officials are hopeful that the public will help them reach their goal.
"Everybody sees the Salvation Army at Christmas time, but what we do at Christmas time is what we do all year around," says Major Strong. "We'll house up to 25 single men at night in our shelter. This office has usually always got somebody in here looking for food or rent or utility assistance. And that goes on year round so the funds that we raise at Christmas not only help at Christmas, but help fund our agency year round."
The Salvation Army will wrap up its Kettle Campaign on Christmas Eve.